Hey, Song Fest ! Have you noticed how over the years you’ve morphed into nothing more than an overly sentimental, pretentious slice of kitsch? You’ve been like this for a while now; Ever since the collapse of Communism you’ve shied away from the catchy memorable hits of the era and veered toward a moody, broody balladic sentimentality that is over the top and theatrical in essence.
It is cringe all the way and the resulting emotion is discomfort, not enjoyment.
So, why so serious? Well, actually you’re not really serious, are you? I mean most of the songs consist of about two verses, with repetitive lyrics. You’re actually quite a lazy studio performer, pretending to be a high-brow concert song-bird, and selling yourself to a mass audience. Your cheesy formula? Slap on some heavy music with heavy-handed melismatic compositions, some repetitive lyrics about adolescent-like heartbreak, some dark visuals and voila, you become serious.
Except no, not really, it doesn’t work like that. That’s how hacks operate.
So, why is everyone trying to prove that they’re basically very serious people? Very serious interpreters, and very serious singers? Besides, who ever said that overt sorrow, darkness and campy, cheesy melancholy equals seriousness?
Please allow a song festival to be festive! There’s no need to incorporate a religious-like solemnity into a national festival that should, in a word, be celebratory and unite the nation with its representation of different regional motifs.
It may help to listen to Parashqevi Simaku’s 2006 Jazz Folk Album titled “Echoes of Illyria” for some tips on modern and folk compositions weaved together like fine silk threads – an album that incorporates some irony in its folk, and wont induce second-hand embarrassment from a deep cringe factor.
But we get it.
Albania’s national festival, in an attempt to compete with and differentiate itself from other musical festivals – such as Kenga Magjike, Top Fest – has, post-2000’s, taken on a very solemn, sensitive, maudlin flavor. It’s an attempt at reinvention, but a campy one at that, because it is very much lacking in sincerity. Its overly sentimental singers, screeching in affected, operatic pain while clad in extravagantly ‘colorful’ clothing, plastered in makeup, scream falsity, incongruity, camp and inauthenticity.
Some hilariously bad acting:
It’s worth noting that this was not the case in pre-1991 festivals; They toed the political line, sure, but they were melodious, festive, fun, catchy.
Perhaps as it stands now – a garish pretentiousness of false sentimentality, a tragic vaudevillian harlequin – could very well mean this song fest is not the right medium for selecting a song to represent the nation in Eurovision. This aesthetic is simply not what Eurovision is looking for. Simply put, they want hits. Songs and melodies that can be accessible to a mass audience of different languages and sensibilities. In a word, something more commercial, more universal, more catchy.
So, if this is the case, why has the National Song Fest – with all of its false gravitas and seriousness – taken on the task of selecting the Eurovision contender? Let’s leave it to less pretentious festivals and let’s leave Festivali i Kenges to do what it does best – be a one trick pony of heavy-handed campy kitsch. Outdated both in style and substance.
But wanna know what’s more pretentious? All the discussion around it. Yes, kinda like this piece here. I think at a time like this, we should be directing our national outrage toward more serious problems – ohh like the economy, the lack of a high court, the political arena, poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of meritocracy, a devastating earthquake etc..rather than dissecting the merits of culturally worthless songs.